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Vulnerable Populations Research and Policy Briefs
Researchers distilled key findings from studies of social innovations that help children and families exposed to violence and abuse

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funds this research to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in order to strengthen families.
Mother and baby
Report includes LTG's work on the Strengthening What Works (SWW) initiative, an initiative to advance the understanding and prevention of intimate partner violence (IPV) in refugee and immigrant communities across the U.S.


Executive Summary
Full Length Report

With a focus on building a Culture of Health, RWJF charged Vulnerable Populations Research and Policy Briefs with examining social innovations designed to address the needs of children and families experiencing and exposed to violence and abuse. Children who face such trauma or experience violence directed at others suffer lifelong harm, are more likely to struggle in school, and have personality and behavioral problems including depression, anxiety, and psychosomatic illness. RWJF funded seven projects, five of which explore intimate partner violence and child abuse, one examines mental health factors in children and youth that promote well-being, and one concentrates on restorative justice.

LTG Associates worked in collaboration with RWJF on one of the projects, Strengthening What Works (SWW), a national program to identify promising practices to prevent IPV among immigrant and refugee populations in the U.S. From February, 2009 to February, 2013 RWJF partnered with LTG in a pioneering effort to evaluate eight diverse IPV prevention programs and to understand the key lessons from the innovative programs as a way to improve the health and well-being of underserved, vulnerable populations. Read more on our SWW Featured Project SWW Featured Project. SWW also focused on building the capacity of organizations working in communities to conduct and utilize evaluations to enhance their work and improve effectiveness. Despite different community-based approaches and diverse ethnic populations, findings suggest that reinforcing positive cultural and social norms and/or promoting healthy relationships in cultural context are critical for effective IPV prevention in refugee and immigrant communities.

Cathleen Crain and Niel Tashima

In the report, Cathleen Crain and Niel Tashima highlight key lessons from SWW. The projects were grounded in understanding the norms of each immigrant or refugee community, and interventions were constructed to function within and respond to specific cultural values and language. Two key elements focused on strengthening or revitalizing existing norms and healthy relationships, and leveraging the norm so that it denied the possibility of IPV being culturally or individually appropriate or acceptable. Key aspects identified in effective interventions: Trusted organization, Sanctioned space, and Messages carried forward by individuals, community organizations, and leaders. Read more on page 14 of the Full Report.




Key Findings: The high level findings from the five projects included, among others:
  • Implementation of mandatory reporting laws related to child abuse and neglect varies dramatically by state.

  • Child abuse registries serve an important function in identifying children at risk of violence, but they do not protect adults' rights to due process.

  • Poverty drives child neglect, and strict lifetime limits on families' welfare benefits are linked to higher levels of child maltreatment.

  • All states should expand their domestic violence laws to recognize the large array of intimate relationships, including dating, romantic, sexual, and same-sex relationships.

  • Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) is relatively common among mothers in fragile families, ranging from 5 percent for physical violence to nearly 30 percent for psychological violence.

  • The child welfare system is ill-equipped to handle an increase in cases resulting from children's exposure to domestic violence.

  • Financial assistance and stable shelter are vital for victims of IPV and their children, but related legal provisions are largely ineffective because of poor implementation, resource shortages, and requirements that exclude many victims and children.

  • Education, race, ethnicity, and mothers' immigration status are important risk factors in children's exposure to neighborhood violence.

  • States are reluctant to outlaw corporal punishment because of debate about whether spanking harms children.

  • Black parents have the highest rates of harsh parenting and Latino immigrant parents the lowest. Home visiting may help encourage nonviolent parenting.

  • Funders and policymakers seeking to prevent interpersonal violence in ethnic and minority communities should support interventions that create and sustain positive cultural values that foster healthy relationships.


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